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Interviews

MANAGER: The magic is still there for me

Paul Simpson on tomorrow's game against Tranmere

5 November 2022

Interviews

MANAGER: The magic is still there for me

Paul Simpson on tomorrow's game against Tranmere

5 November 2022

United boss Paul Simpson spoke fondly of the magic of the FA Cup as he continues to prepare for the first-round meeting with Tranmere Rovers here at Brunton Park on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s still there for me, without a doubt,” he told us. “I still believe it’s the best competition in the world. I’m really happy to be involved and looking forward to it.

“The biggest thing is that I want the players to go and perform and realise the importance of it all. I get the feeling that they do realise the importance of it, we got the FA Cup balls sent to us and we’ve trained with them this week, so it does give you a different feeling.

“I just hope they all go out there and embrace it. I think it’s too early in the competition for the older ones amongst us to use our experiences as examples, but we all know that this competition can be really good.

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“I’ve been fortunate to be involved in a semi-final with Wolves, even though we lost that one against a really good Arsenal side at Villa Park, and I was lucky enough to be invited to the Final by Man City when I was still a schoolboy, and that was an unbelievable experience.

“I was playing for Raffles Rovers on a Friday night at the Sheepmount and when I came off the pitch my dad told me that I’d been invited to the Tottenham game at Wembley. They were after getting me to sign, and it was the game where they drew.

“Thankfully I wasn’t there when Ricky Villa scored that magnificent goal in the replay. That was a lightbulb moment for me when I knew I wanted to be part of the game, so I suppose that’s the best moment for me.

“During my first year in management at Rochdale we got through to the fifth round and played Wolves on a Sunday live on BBC.

“The whole excitement that goes with things like this gives the whole place a buzz, and we had some really good victories to get to that point.

“It gives everybody something to go on and it gives the fans a bit of a lift. I get the feeling the FA Cup isn’t as special to supporters as it used to be, but I’m sure if we win some games it will become a bit more important to them.”

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The quirky factor to this encounter is that the teams met just a week ago, with United coming out on top in that game.

“You know me, I’m blunt, and I’ll only to be able to tell you if us having played them last week makes a difference when we get to 5pm on Saturday,” he said. “If we go about it in the same way as we did at their place then I’d expect we’ll have had a right good go at it.

“The disappointing thing for me is that as things stand at the moment, I think we’re going to have those two enforced changes because of injuries.

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“That’s a real blow because I would have loved to have been able to tell them to go again, do exactly the same as last Saturday. I can’t do that with the changes but, as ever, it’s about us performing and doing the things that we did well last week, whoever is out there.

“It wasn’t rocket science, we did the basics and the simple things well, and that’s what we have to do again.”

“Obviously Tranmere will be looking for a better outcome,” he added. “They had a good, strong performance at Stockport County and they took a point out of what was a tough game.

“We know they’re coming here wanting to put right what happened on Saturday. It won’t get them the three points back, but it will give then a chance to stay in the FA Cup.

“We have to make sure we’re the ones who are still in it. We know we aren’t a club that’s swimming in money and we also know that if we can get a good run in the cup then it helps in terms of the finances coming in. That then helps us to move forward.

“When I got all of the clips together on Tuesday and I showed them the things I thought we did really well last Saturday, we also gave them some little pointers of where we can actually be even better.

“It showed that we dd a lot of things right, so we do have that standard to try to reach once again. The fact that Tranmere changed their formation on Tuesday, with a different system to the one they used against us, that leaves us with a bit of a grey area as to what they might do.

“It never changes, if we can work them, compete for first and second balls, get them turned and get behind them, and if we can create good chances then we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to progress.”

“This weekend is about consistency,” he concluded. “We achieved a level last week at Tranmere and whoever is selected to start this weekend has to go and maintain that level.

“That’s the biggest challenge for us between now and the end of the season. We have to maintain that standard to keep ourselves up in the top places.

“We’re hoping our fans will be noisy and that they’ll push us on. They’ve been magnificent home and away, the noise they made last weekend was fantastic, we silenced their fans through our performance on the pitch and the enthusiasm off it.

“We need it again, and I just ask that they come and support the team without getting involved in anything else.”


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